CCTV at restaurant Rita Ora held lockdown birthday bash was turned off, police say

Rita Ora backstage in the on air studio during day one of Capital's Jingle Bell Ball with Seat at London's O2 Arena. (Photo by Lauren Hurley/PA Images via Getty Images)
Rita Ora (PA Images via Getty Images)

The CCTV cameras at the London restaurant where Rita Ora celebrated her COVID rule-breaking 30th birthday were turned off to avoid filming the celebrity guests in attendance, police have said.

The singer apologised for the 28 November bash two days after it had taken place, describing it as an "inexcusable error of judgment".

Police have now said the cameras at the Notting Hill establishment, Casa Cruz, were switched off on the day of the party at the request of security working the event.

Read more: Piers Morgan says Rita Ora is only sorry she got caught

Police are trying to get the venue’s licence revoked ahead of a hearing on Thursday. Details of the event emerged in a licence review report.

Scottie Bhattarai, a worker at the venue at the time of the party, gave a statement to a council officer and police on 1 December and said he had allowed the restaurant to be used.

He said representatives of Ora called him on his personal mobile phone at about 5.30pm on the day of the party and told him they wanted to use the venue for “drinks and nibbles”.

Bhattarai said the representatives offered £5,000 and that most staff were on furlough so he went to Casa Cruz to “facilitate the event”, apologising for being “greedy”, according to his witness statement.

The group arrived at 7pm with seven or eight guests, he said, though by 9pm there were about 17 people, he told police.

Guests included model Cara Delevingne and her sister Poppy, according to police. Bhattarai told police “security for the entourage” wanted no footage of them arriving so he turned the CCTV off between 6pm-6.30pm.

Watch: Rita Ora apologises for breaking lockdown rules with birthday party

Bhattarai later said the camera system had been faulty and scheduled for repair. No payment had been taken in relation to the event at the time of his statement, Bhattarai said.

The CCTV hard drives were reformatted on 30 November, police said, and no footage was available for the previous month.

Bhattarai did not disclose details of the party organiser to police, according to the report.

Read more: Rita Ora claimed birthday would be herself and her parents

PC James Larner said in a statement included in the report he was on duty when he and a colleague answered a call about a potential breach of COVID rules.

They arrived at Casa Cruz shortly after 11.30pm and could hear music playing however, according to the statement, windows had been blacked out to prevent officers from seeing in.

Rita Ora poses during the Prospero Tequila UK Launch on November 23, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for ABA)
Rita Ora (Getty Images for ABA)

Officers were able to peer through small gaps and witnessed two maskless women sitting at a table, a man by the bar and three other women sitting at a separate table.

When police knocked, the music stopped but there was no response from inside and they disappeared from view.

PC Larner said the music stopping and the occupants apparently leaving meant “it was likely that COVID regulations were being knowingly breached as the occupants did not wish to engage with officers”.

It later emerged that Ora had breached COVID rules a second time by hosting the party as she should've been isolating at the time for two weeks following a private performance in Egypt on 21 November.

She again apologised to fans, noting she "deserved criticism" for her actions.

With reporting by PA.

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